Pope Pius X
Feast Day - August 21
Patron Saint of the archdiocese of Atlanta, Georgia;
first communicants; pilgrims
Pope Pius X (2 June 1835 – 20 August 1914), born Giuseppe Melchiorre Sarto, was pope from 4 August 1903 to his death in 1914. Pius X rejected modernist interpretations of Catholic doctrine, promoting traditional devotional practices and orthodox theology. His most important reform was to publish the first Code of Canon Law, which collected the laws of the Church into one volume for the first time. He was a pastoral pope, encouraging personal piety and a lifestyle reflecting Christian values.
Pius was particularly devoted
to Mary; his encyclical Ad Diem
Illum expresses his desire through
Mary to renew all things in Christ,
which he had defined as his motto in his first encyclical. Pius believed that there is no surer or more direct road than by the Virgin Mary to achieve this goal. Pius X was the only pope in the 20th century with extensive pastoral experience at the parish level, and pastoral concerns permeated his papacy; he favored the use of the vernacular in catechesis. Frequent communion was a lasting innovation of his papacy.
Personally, Pius combined within himself a strong sense of compassion, benevolence and poverty, but also stubbornness and a certain stiffness. He wanted to be pastoral and was the only pope in the 20th century who gave Sunday sermons every week.
After the 1908 Messina earthquake he filled the Apostolic Palace with refugees, long before the Italian government acted. He rejected any kind of favors for his family; his brother remained a postal clerk, his favorite nephew stayed on as village priest, and his three sisters lived together close to poverty in Rome. He often referred to his own humble origins, taking up the causes of poor people.